State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) is not your average Democrat.
As a Republican legislator for eleven years, Addiego had a right-of-center voting record. Now that she has switched her party affiliation, she lands to the right of most of her Democratic Senate colleagues on many state issues.
Guns are perhaps the starkest example of the schism between Addiego’s voting record and the priorities of her new party.
Though she has moved to the center somewhat since then, her opposition to gun control legislation earned her a 93% rating from the National Rifle Association in 2017. Before then, she frequently voted against expanding New Jersey’s gun restrictions, which number among the most stringent in the country.
She moderated somewhat in 2018, after she won re-election by just 2,637 votes in 2017. In 2013, she was elected by a 15,261-vote margin.
Last year, she voted for bills requiring background checks for private gun sales, expanding circumstances in which guns can be seized and creating a new type of gun violence restraining orders.
But she didn’t completely change her views on gun control — she moderated them. She still voted against bills that would ban high-capacity magazines and make it harder for the state’s residents to obtain handgun permits, among others. She did not vote on a measure that would ban 3D-printed guns.
Still, those stances aren’t unheard of for New Jersey Democrats. Before he was elected to Congress, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) also voted against the high-capacity magazine bill and the increasing requirements needed to obtain a handgun permit.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey gave Addiego a 33% rating in 2017. That was an increase from a 0% rating she had received from the group the prior year, but it still falls below the ratings every other Senate Democrat received that year.
The rise in her Planned Parenthood rating can largely be attributed to a series of abstentions she made on bills the group considered for its ratings that year. Of the eight bills or resolutions the PAC looked at, Addiego abstained or did not vote on five of them. She voted in favor of a measure that would provide Medicaid funding for treatment and prevention of the Zika virus and voted against the two remaining measures.
The strategy of abstention is one Addiego has increasingly fallen upon over the past year. On Monday, she was the only Senator to abstain on a committee vote advancing the minimum wage deal reached by Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders.
Despite that, she has moved to the left since she was first elected to the Assembly in 2007. That shift is easy enough to see in Addiego’s ratings from the American Conservative Union. In 2017, the group gave her a rating of 40%. The same year, her lifetime rating was 80%.
Addiego will also need to deal with her near 100% support of Gov. Chris Christie during his eight years in office. Olympian Carl Lewis alleged that Christie intimidated him from running against Addiego in 2011.
After her party switch yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy had a two-part message for Addiego: welcome to the Democratic Party – and now, be a Democrat.
Murphy urged Addiego to start her new journey on the blue side by voting to support a $15-per-hour minimum wage and back his efforts to legalize marijuana.
“I welcome Senator Addiego to that fight, and I look forward to working with the entire Legislature to make New Jersey a stronger and fairer place in 2019,” Murphy said.